Tests and exams have been my entire life up to this point, and with that comes hours and hours of studying. Throughout the years, I’ve developed different study strategies depending on the subject and type of test I’m studying for. Today, tests can be open notes or closed notes, timed or untimed, and online or paper. With the different types of test formats, I have different study methods that I find are effective and time efficient. With midterms behind us and finals season looming ahead of us, here are 10 study tips to improve your exam grades!
1. Make a study guide
I think this is a great way to summarize important information and pull information from a variety of sources into one place. I usually try to get all the important information onto one page. I use a highlighter to emphasize the important vocabulary words and key concepts. This allows me to rewrite my notes and also summarize key points to understand the material better. If the exams are open notes, this is a great way to have all the important information in one place to reference during the exam. That way, you aren’t wasting your time searching for the information.
2. Do lots of practice problems
For concept-based tests such as math, doing practice problems is the best strategy that works for me. I would go through all the chapters and find one of every type of problem, and then do the problems out on paper. Afterward, I go through the problems. For any problems that I did incorrectly, I find other problems like that one to practice again. Although some people struggle with studying for math, I think that simply doing the homework problems repeatedly allows you to practice concepts.
3. Make flashcards for memorizing
If you are studying for a test with a lot of different terminology and facts that have to be memorized, making flashcards is a simple yet effective strategy. Using apps such as Quizlet also makes it more time efficient and is a great way to study from anywhere.
4. Quiz your friends or classmates
If you are taking the same class with your friends, or find yourself in a study group, I find that the most effective strategy is quizzing each other on different topics. You can start by taking turns asking each other questions from your notes. This allows you to later focus on the topics that need more studying and is a great way to gauge if you are prepared.
5. Plan out your studying, take breaks, and give yourself rewards
The first thing I do when I sit down to study is make a study plan. I start by writing down the different chapters or concepts I want to review and how I want to study them. Then, I delegate time for each chapter to study and sprinkle in short 15-minute breaks in between. I try not to time it out too much– the last thing you want to do when you are super focused is to stop because you “ran out of time” according to your schedule. So I try to break up the concepts I have to study and once I finish a specific topic, I take a break and give myself a reward such as a snack. This allows me to motivate myself to study efficiently without restricting myself. I will also try to plan activities with my friends after I finish studying, that way I have something to look forward to.
6. Get the study bunny app
I’ve used this app in the past, and I think it is a super cute way to make studying fun! You can put on a study timer and the more you study, the more coins you get. With the coins, you can “purchase” items for your bunny. Although it’s cheesy, it keeps me motivated and makes my studying more fun!
7. Find a perfect study spot
In order to maximize my productivity, I try to find a quiet study spot to get my studying done. If I am studying independently, I really like finding a quiet space in the library with a nice view of campus. I like natural lighting, so I try to find a spot next to a window on a quiet floor. Lots of people prefer busier places such as a coffee shop to study too. Everyone is different, so find a study space that works for you! If you are in the right environment, it will make your studying more productive.
8. Listen to music
Everyone has different opinions on whether or not music helps them study or distracts them. I enjoy listening to classical or lo-fi music to drown out possible background noise. I usually can’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m studying because that distracts me. But everyone is different, so experiment with music to see if that helps you focus.
9. Go to office hours
If you are struggling to understand a concept, try going to office hours to speak with the professor one on one. If you are like me and would never raise your hand in a full lecture hall, I find that this method is effective. If I am unable to make it to office hours, or let’s be honest, I have procrastinated studying until the night before, I will try to email the professor or TA and ask for clarification on a problem or concept that I don’t understand.
10. Romanticize your studying
Use cute highlighters and pens to create aesthetic study guides, get your favorite drink or snack, or go to a cute place to study. This can make your studying at least a little bit more enjoyable and motivate you to begin studying. The hardest part for me is to just get started. I typically get super overwhelmed and can’t bring myself to even start and I find that this helps me.
These tips have really helped me motivate myself to study more effectively and efficiently. We are all busy college students with other extracurricular activities, jobs, and social lives. I find that if I can maximize my productivity when I have the time, it allows me to get in enough studying to do well on my exams. I think these tips that I have picked up throughout my years of schooling have helped me succeed academically. Everyone is different though and has different preferences, but if you are looking for new study tips, I hope this gave you some ideas.